Ad Fraud

Decrypting Ad Tech with Amit Shetty, Sr. Director of Product, IAB Tech Lab

Some time back, we wrote about the shared principles of the programmatic marketplace. One of these (and probably the most important) was Transparency

To understand this better, think of the ad tech ecosystem as a system that functions on the supply-chain model. There is a buyer (advertiser), a seller (publisher), and many other participants in the middle (ad networks, tech platforms, agencies, etc.)

In that case, transparency becomes an indispensable aspect of programmatic advertising. If everybody commits to being transparent with each other, the chances of ad fraud will be next to none. 

To discuss this further, we conducted a session with Amit Shetty, Senior Director of Product at the IAB Tech Lab. He provided us with invaluable insights into the four key requirements of the ad tech industry: supply chain transparency, increased accuracy and consistency, ID-less environments, and regional privacy solutions. 

In our conversation with him, we understood what steps buyers and sellers can take to ensure that we have a transparent ad tech ecosystem. Most of all, we got a deeper insight into the IAB Tech Lab’s work and some of their initiatives that have been pivotal in reducing ad fraud. 

All About IAB Tech Lab

The IAB Technology Laboratory was established in 2014 as a global IAB sub-organization. Their key objectives include developing foundational technologies that can grow and develop trust in the digital advertising ecosystem. 

Our mission is really to engage with our member community, to develop foundational technologies, things that make the entire ecosystem run, if you will. And the way we do that is to engage with our local IABs. For example, the IAB Tech Lab is a global, independent body that is working in partnership with all the local IABs spread across the world. So, we provide them with technical expertise whenever they require it. We are firm believers of tech standards being global in nature as opposed to varied according to geographies.

Amit Shetty

Urgent Ad Tech Industry Needs 

Despite some of the recent positive developments in the ad tech industry, it is still facing some unprecedented challenges. Many of these are due to imbalance in privacy and transparency between users and the industry. We talked about these issues with Amit Shetty and he had valuable insights for us. 

Here are the four key urgent ad tech industry needs that the IAB Tech Lab is looking to resolve currently: 

  • Supply Chain Management: As stated before, because there are so many participants in the ad tech supply chain, there needs to be a transparent system in place that could reduce ad fraud. 
  • Privacy: Many privacy laws have been introduced in the recent past that have definitely made the world wide web more secure for its users. But the right technology for publishers and advertisers to still rely on digital advertising for earning revenue while the privacy laws play their part still needs improvement. The IAB Tech Lab identifies this as a critical need for the ad tech ecosystem and is working towards technical solutions for privacy. 
  • Measurement: Measurement plays an important role in anything. The IAB Tech lab ensures that whatever digital campaigns exist across any device should be measured properly. 
  • Unified ID: The IAB Tech Lab is also creating standards for a singular ID that would not violate a user’s privacy. This will help in dealing with the third-party cookie demise crisis that the ad tech industry is dealing with currently.

Brand safety and ad fraud probably go hand in hand in many ways. We’ve already seen this with many infamous ad fraud instances such as IceBucket. It’s almost implied that wherever there is money to be made, there will always be scenarios of fraud. The IAB Tech Lab specs are not there to solve all ad fraud but to improve the transparency in our ecosystem. We believe that transparency is going to be the biggest means to solve fraud because if there is no opportunity to get money through any fraudulent methods, then the people are less likely to perpetrate fraud. 

-Amit Shetty

IAB Tech Lab Anti-Ad-Fraud Standards

The IAB Tech lab has developed many technical solutions and standards to fight ad fraud. Amit spent a considerable amount of time shedding light on these standards. These include: 

Ads.txt

This is a list of partners who have the authority to sell digital inventory to buyers. Publishers are themselves included in this list. This way fraudsters cannot claim inventory that does not belong to them. 

Ads.txt is certainly growing. It appears that approximately 70% of programmatic traffic is going through ads.txt and we wish to make it simpler in the near future.

– Amit Shetty

Also Read: Ads.txt: How to Create, Update, & Implement Ads.txt

Ads.cert

This was introduced by IAB to supplement Ads.txt. Through this, it is ensured that any exchange between the buyer and the seller in a supply chain is authorized. 

Also Read: Ads.cert: What Is Ads.cert And Why Does It Matter?

Sellers.json

This is similar to Ads.txt but with a slight difference. In ads.txt, publishers keep a list of the authorized sellers. But with sellers.json, it’s the sell-side partners including SSPs and ad exchanges which have to maintain a list of authorized sellers. 

Read more about it: Sellers.json: An IAB Tech to Improve Programmatic Transparency

SupplyChain Object

This was launched alongside Sellers.json. This enables buyers to see the list of sellers who are paid for selling any openRTB impression. Basically, SupplyChain Object works in tandem with Sellers.json.

The idea behind SupplyChain Object is that every entity in the supply chain of ad tech adds their details in the bid request. At this point, it works with all the versions of openRTB. 

Watch the Webinar

We have tried to cover some of the most important aspects of the webinar in this blog post. But the webinar includes many other significant insights from Amit. Some of these include a Q&A session with very interesting questions about IAB Tech Lab’s work, Amit himself trying to show how the supply chain works in the ad tech industry, how ads.txt and sellers.json files look, etc. 

Watch the full webinar here: Against Ad Fraud and Towards Transparency

About Amit Shetty

Amit leads the programmatic, OpenRTB, OpenDirect, brand safety, and ad fraud efforts along with driving Video, OTT, and Audio related initiatives at the IAB Tech Lab. In his role, he is developing standards (like VAST, VPAID, SIMID, OM) TV Convergence, DOOH efforts, building a certification program, and open Source tools to help the ad-tech developer community. He has over 20 years of management and leadership roles within Media, Advertising, SaaS, Telco, Mobile, Enterprise, and Consumer software.


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